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McKay Nursery Company

Plants to Bring Birds to Your Backyard

Mar 20, 2019 10:01:00 AM

The landscape around your home can be one of the best places for birdwatching when you garden with plants that let birds know they’ve found a home. Plants provide food, such as nectar for hummers and seeds and berries for songbirds, but they also provide nesting sites and shelter so birds feel safe enough to stick around.


Gardening with native plants helps draw native songbirds, and many bird favorites also attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees. Want more birds – and songs – in your backyard? Consider planting some of these:



Left: Ruby Star Purple Coneflower, right: PowWow White Coneflower

Easy-to-grow and oh-so pretty, coneflowers become natural bird feeders in the landscape when their cone-like centers fill with seed. Ruby Star Purple Coneflower, with its rust-red cones, grows up to 36 inches tall. Pair it with compact PowWow White Coneflower – just 18 to 24 inches tall and great for smaller spots. Both these coneflowers bloom heavily, look beautiful in winter landscapes, and – if your birds don’t mind sharing – they’re great for fresh or dried bouquets, too.


Black-Eyed Susans

Left: Deamii Black-eyed Susans, right: Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susans

Also known as Rudbeckias, these cheery native plants draw birds to center cones that highlight smile-provoking, daisylike, golden blooms. Deamii Black-eyed Susan reaches 30 inches tall with yellow-orange summer flowers. Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan, at just 14 to 16 inches tall, offers profuse golden-yellow blooms. Birds relish the cone-shaped seed heads, so plant plenty of these for fall and winter food. You’ll want to cut some bouquets for yourself, too.



Left: Prairie Fire Dogwood, right: Arctic Fire Dogwood

Excellent for providing berries, dogwoods also provide varying heights in the landscape – a bonus for nesting birds. Plus, they provide winter interest from beautiful red stems, too. Prairie Fire Dogwood grows 5 to 6 feet tall with cream-white May flowers and chartreuse-yellow summer leaves. White summer berries keep birds well-fed, and red fall foliage provides a treat for you. More compact at just 3 to 4 feet tall, Arctic Fire Dogwood offers white May flowers, white summer fruit, red fall foliage and dark red, winter stems.



Left: Blue Muffin Viburnum, right: Chicago Lustre Viburnum

Like dogwoods, viburnums are excellent shelter plants for birds. They’re also standouts for landscape beauty. The often-fragrant flowers lead to colorful, late-season, bird-worthy fruit. Blue Muffin Viburnum tops out at 5 to 7 feet tall with glossy leaves, white May flowers and abundant, blue fall berries. Chicago Lustre Viburnum has creamy white June blooms and metallic blue-black fruit to feed birds from late summer into October or longer. It matures at 8 to 10 feet tall.



Left: Blueberry Delight Juniper, right: Grey Owl Juniper

From low-maintenance groundcovers to upright forms, junipers provide birds with berrylike cones and dependable year-round cover. From songbirds to game birds, your feathered friends will adore these evergreens. Blueberry Delight Juniper stays just 12 inches tall but spreads up to 5 feet with silvery-blue-lined needles, coppery bronze fall color, and cones you’ll mistake for blueberries from afar. Spreading Grey Owl Juniper grows 2 to 3 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide with airy, silvery green foliage. Birds love the long-lasting glaucous blue berries, which make great holiday decorations, too.


By keeping your feathered visitors in mind when planning and planting, you can enjoy hours of first-class birding right in your backyard. Shop our plants online for in-store pickup, local truck delivery, or FedEx delivery anywhere in the continental United States. If you’re in the Madison, Wisconsin area, stop in at our retail garden center, Winterland Nursery, and see why gardening is for the birds.

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